Do you tattoo?

My tattoo doesn't mean I have an unhealthy obsession with fruity condiments. 

It stands for initials of my son, my husband and I, and if you were to see it in real life you wouldn’t read “jam” because the tattoo is done in reverse mirror image. So it’s correct when I look over my shoulder in the mirror.

And it is the only one of my four tattoos that I can show you without bearing too much skin. 

I got my first tattoo at age 37 to mark overcoming a particularly disastrous period in my life. 

At the time, I was told they were addictive and thought “no way”. Each one since has gotten progressively larger and I’m contemplating a fifth.

In decades past, tattoos weren’t typically considered respectable in our culture. Now body art has become so mainstream, even fashionable, for both genders that it is almost a rarity to find someone without any ink.

Even those without often say they plan to get a tattoo some day but just haven’t figured out what yet. When you are marking your body for life, it pays to carefully consider what styles, colours and symbols you will enjoy for years to come.

A basic guide to popular styles is as follows:

  • Traditional - bold lines and bright colours in the quintessential Sailor Jerry style.
  • Realism - as the name implies, this style is about photo-realistic images of people and nature. 
  • Tribal - indigenous body art has been around for millennia with intricate graphics done in Polynesian, Celtic and Maori symbols being very popular. 
  • New School - is actually ‘80s and ‘90s old school cartoon style.
  • Japanese - originated during the Edo period featuring the country’s mythological images like dragons, tsunami waves, and phoenixes.
  • Blackwork - a broad category encompassing those styles created solely with black ink. Can look like pointillism or be very realistic with detailed shading. 

And there are new styles emerging, such as graffiti and watercolour, as tattoo artists experiment with techniques and tools. 

Placement on the body is a vitally important consideration. Some opt for body art that is only seen in private while others want their ink to be visible.

Sleeves, where the entire arm is covered, are becoming increasingly popular for both sexes. Getting such a large area of the body tattooed is an investment in time and cost, not to mention pain.

For those few uninitiated into the world of body art, yes, it hurts. More or less depending on your tolerance, the location of the tattoo, and the length of the session.

I was only driven to tears once near the end of a four-hour tattoo session as the artist, Darcy Cameron of Jays and Arrows Tattoo in Kelowna, finished a feathered wing on my sensitive ribcage.

The maddening itch of the skin healing the weeks after was almost worse, but still absolutely worth it.

My other tattoos have also been done locally by Dan Bertram of Bertram and Company on Leon Avenue. Both Dan and Darcy are consummate professionals dedicated to their craft and utterly amazing artists. 

I recently caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a year, and one of the things she was most excited to share with me was her new tattoo.

It struck me how proud most of us inked people are of our tattoos and the stories we share about their meaning. Despite the common argument against getting one, I’ve yet to meet anyone with regrets. And thanks to advanced laser removal options, no one has to. 

Now, am I ready for the next level of body art....piercing?


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About the Author

Marla is best known for her 19-year career in the local charitable sector as a fund development and marketing manager with the Okanagan Regional Library, United Way, UBC Okanagan, and Kelowna Community Resources. 

In 2014, Marla and her husband decided to take a break from the work world, and, four years, later they are still enjoying Okanagan summers, winters in Mexico, and extensive travel. 

Marla has had a life-long passion for fashion, designing her own graduation dress and formal gown for the 1990 Miss Interior competition before age 20.

In 2014, she was named one of nine Style Ambassadors for a year-long marketing campaign at Orchard Park Mall. Her motto is “Life is short...you might as well go through it looking good."

If you have a style question or topic you’d like Marla to cover in this column, contact her at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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